Wednesday in Venice – Rain and St. Mark

11/5 – what a difference a day makes! We awoke this morning to the gentle lapping of waves on the shore… of our hotel! It is raining, and this morning’s high tide brought three feet of water into the city. Here’s the view out our window:

With our breakfast, our host (sorry, he is Russian and I can’t spell his name) brought up some knee-high Wellington boots in different sizes, and offered them to us so we could venture outside. Oh boy! Just like when Lexi and I go out to splash in puddles! We got on our rain gear, and sloshed out to see Venice in the rain.

Some shops were closed, but for others it was business as usual, in boots and six inches of water. The hawkers on the square were selling ponchos, plastic boots and umbrellas. Elevated walkways, like folding tables, were erected over some of the deepest spots, and in front of the Cathedral. By noon, the waters began to subside.

Now, if you recall our quest, we are Looking for the tombs of the 12 Apostles of Jesus, to the extent that they are known. Here in Venice, we don’t have any of the Twelve, but we do have St. Mark the Evangelist, purported author of the Gospel to the Hebrews that bears his name, and one of the original 70 disciples whom Christ sent out to spread the Word. Close enough!

Mark was originally buried in Alexandria, where he was Bishop, and conducted his ministry. In the year 828, his remains were hidden under layers of pork and smuggled past the Muslims (who can’t touch pork) to Venice. This mosaic is in the Cathedral: image

The Doge decreed that a cathedral be built in Mark’s honor. The relics were misplaced for a century, but eventually were found and installed under the high altar at the Basilica San Marcos. Here is the exterior of the Basilica, partially covered in scaffolding:

This cathedral is unlike others we have visited in that it is not lit in a modern fashion. The small windows, high up, don’t provide much illumination during the day. The candlelit interior must look very much as it did 1000 years ago. The low lighting helps explain why there was so much focus on filling cathedrals with gold – the reflective quality was needed to see!

The floor mosaics are particularly striking:

In the rear of the church is the high altar. We must pay 2 euro each to get close. image
The silver casket is inscribed Corpus Marcus Evangiliste

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Behind the altar is a large gold panel, encrusted with gems.
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We moved on to a side chapel, to find a place to sit and meditate. Another good day.

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